About Duquesne, players to watch


Mark Pope has guided BYU back to the dance for the first time in three years.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brigham Young Cougars guard Jaxson Robinson (2) as BYU hosts Baylor, NCAA basketball in Provo on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024.

BYU will be dancing in the Midwest.

The selection committee gave the Cougars a six-seed and placed them in Omaha for the first and second rounds.

They will play 11-seed Duquesne on Thursday. With a win, BYU could see three-seed Illinois or play Morehead State out of the Ohio Valley Conference.

The No. 1 seed in the East region is UConn.

This is head coach Mark Pope’s second official NCAA Tournament bid and first in three years. He would have made the tournament his first season in Provo if it hadn’t been canceled due to COVID-19.

This season’s run has been his most improbable. Last year, BYU finished 7-9 in the West Coast Conference and looked miles away from a tournament bid. Going into the Big 12, the coaching staff kept nearly the same roster — adding playmaking center Aly Khalifa and relying on an analytics-based strategy.

Yet, the Cougars soared to fifth in the Big 12 this season. BYU finished No. 16 in KenPom, its highest ranking since 2020.

About the opponent

Longtime head coach Keith Dambrot had his best team in Pittsburgh this year, winning 24 games out of the Atlantic 10.

His veteran Duquesne team boasted one of the better defenses in the country. It finished 28th in defensive efficiency.

On offense, the Dukes slow it down and grind out possessions in the half court. They play at one of the slower paces (251st) and like to keep games in the 70s. They averaged 71 points per game, good for 252nd in the country.

Dae Dae Grant is Duquesne’s leading scorer — a former Miami (OH) guard. He averaged over 16 points per game.

You might also remember Duquesne’s starting center, Fousseyni Drame. He was on the Saint Peter’s team that went to the Elite Eight in 2022. He played nearly 20 minutes a night during that run.



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